History and origin of its name
When the village of Bethelsdorp near Port Elizabeth was first established in 1803, it was managed by two driven men from London Missionary Society. They found themselves acting as guardians, defending the resident KhoiKhoi
against representatives of colonial government and the labour hungry Boer farmers of the area.
image by Map Data ©2018 AfriGIS(Pty) Ltd, Google
Forced removals have taken place since the inception of the Mission Station at Bethelsdorp in 1804. It was the first organized settlement in the Algoa Bay Area of the then Eastern Frontier of the Cape Colony.
The concept of ‘settling’ the indigenous peoples and the freed slaves into European styled settlements was a favoured way of the colonial government of ‘placing’ indigenous peoples such as the Khoisan groups into areas where they could be ‘civilised’ ‘Christianised’ and ultimately controlled. Other local authorities had tried the idea of passes for the Khoikhoi and slaves. It however became embedded in the law for the first time in Bethelsdorp. Therefore, it was transformed into a ‘forced settlement’ by law, both being unnatural state for people who were used to determining their own boundaries. Bethelsdorp was also a place of displacement that occurred periodically when some residents were sent to Zuurbrak, Pacalsdorp, Theopolis,m Hankey in the Gamtoos Valley and the Kestberberg River Settlements.
According to the latest census, Census 2011, 36494 people reside in Bethelsdorp area. The demographics are as follows:
The Van der Kemp Memorial Church, the historical houses and Van der Kemp’s Kloof are a few of the attractions which remain intact today. Furthermore, Van der Kemps Dutch Bible remains in the position of the church. It has been widely accepted that the bible is the oldest in South Africa.
Do you know any notable persons who was born, reside(d) or worke(d) in the Bethelsdorp area? Let us know.
Census 2011., 2011. StasSA. [Online]
Available at: https://census2011.adrianfrith.com/place/299006002
[Accessed 03 March 2017].
South African History Online, 2017. South African History Online. [Online]
Available at: http://www.sahistory.org.za/places/almshouses-alms-street-bethelsdorp
[Accessed 20 October 2017].
Last Updated: January 2018
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